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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  September 29, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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tonight -- justice on trial. the case that shocked a nation. three little boys murdered and dumped in a creek. three teenagers accused of horrendous crimes. whispers of devil worship, of sexual abuse, then the verdicts. and the west memphis three disappeared behind bars. tonight, the extraordinary 18-year effort to free them. >> we told them we were innocent and they sent us to prison for the rest of our lives. >> and the questions that remain. did the killer or killers go free? and was the truth a victim, too? >> they're 100% innocent. we needed someone to hate to survive because our child was dead. >> if these animals are released, you just as well give the key to everybody that's on death row right now. >> the west memphis three in their own words.
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>> it does something to you when you see something like that. it cracks you inside. >> this is "piers morgan tonight." good evening. the case of the west memphis three began in 1993 when the naked bodies of three 8-year-old boys were found in a ditch in west memphis, arkansas. stevie branch, michael moore and christopher byers had been hog-tired by their shoe laces. three local teenagers were charged with the crime. amaid allegations of satanic rituals. damien echols, jason baldwin and ajesse misskelley. damien was sentenced to death and the other to life in prison. but questions remain about their guilt and the case. as the years past, the west memphis three got attention from celebrities. after nearly two decades behind
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bars, echols, baldwin and misskelley walked free. more on that in a moment. but joining me now, damien echols and his wife laurie davis. welcome to you both. >> thank you. >> an extraordinary saga, no other way to put this, ending in the most bizarre circumstances, where eventually you all admit guilt and yet you walk free, which is a bizarre twist in this tale, a weird anomaly in the legal system and will make no sense to anybody, probably least of all you damien, let me start with you. you've lost 20 years of your life for a crime you've always said you didn't commit. what has it been like for you? you in particular you were sentenced to death, you had to live with that every day you were incarcerated. you spent most of your time in isolation, i think. tell me about the experience. >> well, it's been actually the last ten years in absolute solitary confinement. 24 hours a day seven days a week
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i was alone with the exception i would spend with laurie. we were allowed to see each other once a week for three hours. >> she was the only person you saw? >> pretty much. every once in a while maybe her family would come, maybe once a year or something, but for the most part she was the only person i saw. >> what could you have with your solitary confinement? did you have a television? >> there was a television, no cable anything like that. just the basic television channels. your shower is right there in the cell with you. there's a drain in the floor. it's solid concrete walls and solid steel door. there's a slide in the door that they open up to pass food through or to give you mail, things like that. but for the most part, you're completely and absolutely sealed off from everybody. >> what was the bed like? >> it's a concrete slab along the back of the wall, about 2 1/2 feet off the floor. they give you a mat like kindergartners take naps on to put on top of that, and that's your bed. >> a computer? >> no.
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when i got locked up there was no such thing as the internet. i had never seen the internet, never used a cell phone. >> were you aware of news other than through the television -- i presume you could catch up on news, but were you aware of world events? were you following them? >> just what i would see on the major network television stations. >> how often were you allowed to exercise? >> as often as you do it yourself in your cell. there were no exercise periods, no gym equipment, nothing like that. it's just whatever you can could devise on your own. >> when did you see daylight? >> never. i hadn't seen daylight in almost a decade. i hadn't been exposed to sunlight. >> in ten years? >> for almost ten years, yes. >> what are you thinking throughout this period? i mean, this is, for an innocent man, as many believe that you are and you've always protested this, what are you thinking when you're stuck in there? >> the only thing you can do and maintain your sanity is to not think about the case and not think about what's happening to you.
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you have to sort of immerse yourself into a routine and never deviate from that routine, work out your own exercise regmen, work out a meditation regimen. start a practice, artwork, writing, whatever it is. you have to create your own world in there or you'll go insane from that stuff. >> i don't know how you keep your sanity. >> you don't have a choice. it's not like you can get up one day and say, i quit, i'm tired of this, i'm going to home. you do whatever it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get through the next day. >> what effect did it have on your health? >> there's almost no medical care, no dental care in prison so my health was deteriorating very rapidly. i've lost a great deal of my eyesight. whenever you're in a confined space, you never get a chance to see anything far away so you gradually lose the ability to. i started losing my ability to see anything further than a few inches away from me. i was extremely light-sensitive due to the fact of not seeing
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sunlight. >> the first moment you came out, what was it like to have daylight again? >> it was like having a spotlight right in your face. it was extremely bright. i couldn't wait for the nightfall, you know, the sun to go down because i hadn't seen that in almost 20 years. i'd never gotten to see a sunset. it was one of those things i had been waiting on for so long, sunsets, to see the leaves change colors, to feel autumn come in. this will be one of my first years, one thing i'm really excited about, this is going to be my first real christmas, my first real thanksgiving. it will be our first anniversary that we spent together outside in 20 years, 18 1/2. >> what are the things you've had to learn again about real life? the simple things. >> well, there are things that most people would expect you to have to learn, you know, like i said, i had never even seen the internet so i'm learning how to use a cell phone, how to use a computer. but there are also things, for example, i hadn't walked in 18
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1/2 years without chains on my feet. so i'm -- i wasn't used to that when i first got out. so i was literally having to learn to walk again. and the first few days i would almost keep falling over myself because i was used to walking with short strides with chains on my feet. i had to learn to use a fork again. i hadn't eaten with a fork in 18 1/2 years. >> why? >> you don't get forks in there. >> how do you eat? >> with your hands. >> people watching will say, had you been the person responsible for the death of three young boys in this horrific manner, they don't care how badly you're treated in prison. the problem comes if you're completely innocent and you're being treated in these barbaric circumstances. >> right. >> i mean, for someone like you to be enduring such an intolerable lifestyle but leaving absolutely -- believing absolutely you're innocent, i come back to the question of sanity. it must have been incredibly hard.
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let me take you back to what happened. may 5, 1993, the bodies of three 8-year-old boys are found. it's a small town. everybody knows each other or knows someone who knows someone. >> right. >> so it becomes the biggest story, a national story, something that grips people and it's so horrifying, the desire by people to catch the perpetrators is intense. when is the first time that you hear you are going to be in trouble with this? >> almost immediately, and it wasn't just because of this. it was i had been harassed a great deal. it really was a really small town, and i stuck out due to the way i looked, the music that i listened to, things like that. so i had been harassed for quite a while before these murders took place. >> were you a troublemaker? or were you just a bit different? >> the most trouble i had ever gotten into was running away
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from home as a teenager. something like that. >> ever broken the law? >> no. >> you were into heavy metal? >> exactly. >> you liked reading stephen king books. >> right. >> there were allegations, but there's nothing wrong with stephen king, nothing wrong with liking ozzie osborn or whoever it was. >> in 1993 i hadn't even heard the word but now it's common. they say i was goth. you didn't have that in small towns back then. it drew a lot of notice from a small town crowd. it made me stand out and sort of made me a target. >> so what happened? >> just immediately, as soon as it happened, people said a murder this horrific couldn't have just happened. you know, what would have been the reason for it? obviously they weren't robbed. they're 8-year-old children. we found out later they hadn't been sexually molested in any way. they tried to say that in the very beginning, but we found out that they hadn't been.
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so what other reason would there be for murdering these children? the only thing they could come up with was it a satanic ritual. to them it made sense. >> when did you notice you would be pulled in by the police. >> they showed up at my door the day after the bodies were found. i mean, it was almost immediate that they started coming to me. >> and how did that make you feel? >> there's no words to even describe it. most people don't have anything in their frame of reference to compare that to. to know these people are coming to you because they actually believe you are capable of murdering three children. it does something to you psychologically that you will never, ever get over. >> tell me about the relationship with you and the two other men who were accused with you. men, you were boys at the time, 16, 17. tell me about jessie. because he and his testimony to police very early on were the catalyst of what happened to you. >> right. >> what we've heard subsequently
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is he has a very low iq, 72, he is mentally retarded. >> right. >> he's not somebody who really should have been giving lengthy evidence without a lot of legal help. >> exactly. >> what happened? >> well, whenever they called him in for questioning, like you said, he was mentally retarded. he had been in like special education classes in school, things like that. they said he had mentally functioned at the level of something like a 5 to 8-year-old child. they called him in and started questioning him and basically with mentality he had, what happened is he agreed to anything that they said. they would say, did you do this? he would say yes. >> and very little of this testimony was ever kept on tape, certainly on tape that was found. >> exactly. >> fragments of this interview, which in itself is suspicious and strange and weird. >> exactly. >> he gives this evidence. he says, yeah, i saw you and he
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saw jason and i saw them kill these boys and they raped these boys, horrific stuff he came out with. >> right. >> as a result of that, you guys are now in very serious trouble. >> yes. i don't think he -- with the mentality he had and his iq level, i don't think he could even really comprehend the level of trouble that he was in or that he had drug us into with him. >> how well did you know him? >> not very well. jason baldwin i knew a great deal better. he was my best friend since we were teenagers. jessie misskelley is someone we would see somewhere, pool hall shooting pool. something like that. but he wasn't as close to us as we knew each other. >> why did you think he was doing this? >> it's hard to say. i think part of it was just prompting by the police. part of it may have been he thought he was going to get something out of it. it's hard to say. >> when is the worst moment for you? >> it's hard to say. i almost want to say there were no worst moments.
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it just kept getting worse and worse. every single moment was worse than the last one. it doesn't ever stop. you know, you think the moment you're arrested, that's the worst moment. you think the moment you're in the trial, that's the worst moment. you think the moment you're convicted is the worst moment. you think the moment you're sentenced to death, that's the worst moment. your first execution date rolls around, that's the worst moment. it just gets worse and worse and worse. it's a horror story. it's like a train that doesn't stop. it just keeps picking up speed and getting worse and worse. >> very few people can understand anything that you've been through. one of them is going to join us after this break. he's one of the other members of the memphis three. [ male announcer ] it's a fact: your nutritional needs can go up when you're on the road to recovery.
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for medicare made clear, we're here to answer all of your questions. call unitedhealthcare medicare solutions. damien echols guilty of capital murder in the death of stevie branch. we the jury find damien echols guilty of capital murder in the death of chris byers.
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we the jury find damien echols guilty of capital murder in the death of michael moore. >> all the memphis three were convicted of murder, damien echols sentenced to death. he and his wife laurie davis are with me. we've been joined by jason baldwin, another mb of the west memphis three welcome, jason. let's cut to the quick here. what was the evidence against you, other than the word of jessie, who we already established had a mental age of somewhere between 5 and 8 years old? >> the evidence was our personal preferences in music. i remember at one point in the trial they lifted up a record, i think john fogelman said this was found in damien girlfriend's mother's house. >> he was the prosecutor. >> right. >> as if somehow that implied you were capable of killing young boys. >> right. >> there's no dna evidence against you?
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>> well, at the time they had evidence and stuff but since it didn't match us it wasn't brought up. >> nothing tangibly linking any of you to the deaths of these boys. >> right. >> has ever emerged. was there anything else other than music you listened to, books you read, clothes you wore or haircuts? >> that was it. >> how do you feel? you've listened to damien out there. i'm assuming you didn't have much contact in the years that you were both incarcerated. >> no. when we first got locked up, we would write letters through his sister, damien, but i got called up to the warden's office and told i wasn't permitted to do that. so i was no longer permitted. so the only type of contact we could have was through mutual friends, call a friend. i'd be like, how is damien? have you talked to damien? kind of pass on words of encouragement like that. >> presumably, in prison you are pariahs, right?
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>> yeah. in the first few years, like when i first got there, people were literally waiting for us to get there. you know, just to do us harm. >> and they would attack you? >> oh, yeah. >> how often? >> the first few years, a lot. >> like what? >> i've got shattered skull, broke collar bone, teeth knocked out, multiple scars on my face and stuff from it. but as the years progressed and people got to know me and as the documentaries came out and stuff, you know, the curses turned into prayers. fistfights turned into hugs. >> this must just be -- this is a nightmare. were you going through the same thing? >> yes, absolutely. >> it's just unthinkable to me that you're going through this. then the mood begins to change. that's when i want to bring you in here, laurie, because a campaign begins.
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there are rumblings of discontent about this case. people are beginning to think, this doesn't add up, there isn't the evidence, and hbo did a documentary. you watched this documentary. a lot of famous people now have been able to get behind this and gave it publicity. when you watched it, it was very powerful and led the viewer to an obvious clearcut conclusion, that you could not have been responsible for the deaths of these boys. you start writing to damien. what are you thinking when these letters arrive? >> i think i fell in love with laurie pretty much from the very first letter. >> why? >> because i just knew this was someone, unlike anyone i had ever known in my life. she just stood out. it was something completely and absolutely different about her. she was out of my frame of reference. it was something -- she was something completely magical and alien to me at the time, and it was one of those kinds of love
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that just hurts because it's so much. >> i'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment -- this won't surprise you -- when you read about women who write to convicted killers and so on, there is a kind of freaky element to a lot of those relationships, it's unhealthy, it's weird. this is different because you did it after watching a documentary where, as i say, you couldn't conclude from that that you were the killers. so really you're writing to an innocent man, as you see it. >> right. >> that is the distinction. but you must have still had family, friends, people around you, presumably, as this relationship developed thinking, what are you doing? >> well, fortunately, for most of my life i've been a pretty grounded, responsible person so i think if i had been a little more erratic in my life, then maybe -- but it was astounding because my close friends stuck
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by me. >> you fell in love. you started meeting each other. you were allowed to see him. and you get married. >> right. >> there's still the prospect of you facing an execution. how do you deal with that psychologically? >> i never entertained the thought of it. i just never did the whole time. >> that's what i was going to say. it's almost like you refuse to accept it. i heard a guy one time talking about race car drivers and whenever they're training them they tell them, never look at the wall. because if you look at it you're going to drive into it, you're going to move toward what you focus on. therefore, we wouldn't focus on that because we didn't want to move toward it. we focused all of our attention, energy, and work toward getting outs, towards proving our innocence. >> the campaign that you then joined aggressively and began to be more and more public about it. i want to take another break and when we come back, i want to get into when you were found guilty and also when you admitted guilt
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to get your freedom, which is, as i said at the start of the show, a bizarre some will say ridiculous way, for this to end. but it got you here. [ engine revs ]
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i did not want to take the
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deal from the get-go. however, they're trying to kill damien, and sometimes you just got to fight to save somebody. >> emotional moment right after jason, damien and jessie misskelley jr. were freed last month. to get there, they had to plead guilty. while insisting they are innocent. i should point out we asked misskelley to join us, but he declined. this is a fascinating development. it's called the alfred plea, a very rare part of american law. and in the end you were able to proclaim your innocence while pleading guilty. i don't get it. jason, explain to me what this actually means. >> well, the alfred plea was the only opportunity we was given to plead our innocence and get out. the way it was set up was the state didn't want to admit that
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they had, you know, convicted three innocent people to prison and to death, so what they put together was an opportunity for them to claim that, hey, we got the right guys, but the evidence doesn't prove that they're guilty. if they go to trial again, they'll win. we're giving them an opportunity to get out now to save the taxpayers some money and they can still maintain their innocence and state still maintains the point that they're guilty. >> you did an extraordinary thing for your friend because you could have done a deal and gotten out. but if you didn't take this deal, he would have been facing the death penalty still, right? >> well, on both deals, they came to me with plea agreements when i first got arrested. i told my attorneys not to ever bring these plea agreements to me.
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but by law they have to. the first time they were like, you know, this is when i was 16. they wanted me to testify against damien. i'm like, that's impossible. i can't testify against him. i'd have to testify for him. but my attorney is like no, they don't want you to do. they want you to say the did the crime and they'll give you five years or whatever. i said, i couldn't do that, i don't care if they'd let me out right now. so jump ahead 18 years to now, this deal. it's to save an innocent life. it's to save damien from death row. it's a sure thing, it gets him home now and gets home out of death row where he's suffering not being at home with lorri. >> how many execution dates did you face? >> i only had one. my original execution date was may 5, 1994. >> in the buildup to that, did you genuinely think you were going to get killed?
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>> i thought there was a good possibility. we were convicted of something we didn't do with no evidence. if that was possible, the execution was possible. >> how many were on death row with you? >> it varies. on average, i would say about 40. in the time i you was there, i saw between 25 and 30 executions. >> there's big debate at the moment about executions, the troy davis execution last week. i mean, when you hear this debate, how many -- i've read statistics. 17 people who were on death row had their sentences commuted because of dna evidence and not 112 had their sentences commuted for other reasons. there you have 140 people who would have been executed wrongly. you could have been one of those people. >> and i knew i could have been one of those people because it happens all the time. you know, people think this case is something out of the ordinary, and it wasn't. innocent people get caught up in these situations all the time. you still have innocent people
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there in arkansas on death row right now. it happens all the time. >> what did your families think? how did they react to this? did any of them turn against you? any of them believe you may be guilty? >> none of mine. >> none of yours? >> the thing about that is, i was with my family at the time the murders occurred. >> which is a key thing in the study of the evidence. it was all based on jessie's testimony to the police, most of which has never been made public because they didn't have the tapes or didn't want to release them at the time. >> right. >> and he said first of all it all happened in the morning, then it happened in the afternoon. >> right. >> then finally he washed up at a time that suited the timing of the deaths. i mean, this is scandalous, isn't it? jason, why do you think jessie was doing this? >> well -- >> because if he hadn't, i don't think any of you would have gone to prison, would you? >> the closest thing i can come like the schoolyard bully who gets the kid to cry uncle under
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duress. the bully knows he's not the other kid's uncle and the kid knows the bully is not his uncle but he puts him under so much pressure and pain, okay, uncle, let me loose. >> do you hate jessie? do you blame him? >> not at all. >> he's mentally handicapped. he didn't choose to be born that way. >> he's a victim. >> some members of the boys' families supported you. others to this day continue to say you were the people responsible for the deaths of their children. how do you deal with that psychologically? >> you just have to keep moving forward. i mean, if you do focus on that and if you do dwell on that sort of thing all the time, you're going to lose your mind. you're going to go crazy, and there's nothing you can do. >> you know, you look at these pictures of these boys, sweet 8-year-old sons. i've got three sons. they've all been 8 years old at some stage. >> that's how old my youngest brother was when it happened. we were terrified for his
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safety. you know, when we first heard of the murders, like on may 6th when the bodies were found, my mom was freaking out, oh, my god, there's somebody out here killing kids. keep terry at home. watch him. make sure nothing happens to him. >> does a part of you understand why some of their family felt they had closure with your convictions? >> absolutely. >> and they just can't deal with the fact that it may not be what they had been told it was? >> absolutely i can understand it. >> yes. there's a quote that always comes to my mind when i think about this, it did throughout the entire thing -- forgive them father for they know not what they do. it's what jesus said when he was put on the cross. that's what i think of when i encounter this stuff. >> let's take another break. when we come back, i want to ask you who you think may have been responsible for the deaths of these boys. i habe a cohd.
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if these animals are released, you just as well give the key to everyone on death row right now to open up their cells and walk out here with all the rest of us. >> i'm still standing and fighting for justice because they're innocent!
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they did not kill my son! >> two very different reactions from fathers of two of the murdered boys. the west memphis three spent nearly a decade behind bars for the crime before being released last month. with me is damien echols, his wife lorri and jason baldwin. how do you feel when a lot of famous people begin to rally to your cause? i mean, the music we've been using in our breaks is a special thing for you. explain what that is. >> it's a song on a pearl jam album that was -- eddie vetter had taken the lyrics for it from a piece of poetry i had written when i was much younger and put it to music. and it was you know just an incredible experience, just hearing the finished product and seeing what it sounds like. it's just an absolutely amazing thing and something that means a great deal to me. >> to have the support of someone like him. >> in a way, it was like we didn't think of it a lot of time
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as support from someone famous because these were people, they weren't just like celebrities who came in and threw money at the case. these were people who were involved on a very ground floor level. >> peter jackson got involved, johnny depp, these are high profile, very famous people. and they definitely made a difference to the atmosphere around your case. >> right. >> this guy here sitting next to you, you come across to me -- i've never met to you before in my life -- as somebody grounded, intelligent, eloquent, not the things you would associate with the portrayal of you in your court case of this devil worshipping, satanic, cult-obsessed weirdo, dangerous maniac who could be capable of murdering children. you knew him very well. he was your best friend at the time. put yourself aside. as you heard him described as the evil ringleader of mass
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murder, what were you thinking? >> i just knew everybody had it wrong. they didn't know him. like in high school, his mom fixed him lunches to carry to school in paper bags, you know. even then with the high school kids, they joked, what you got in the bag there, damien, a cat? he'd be, like, yeah, yeah. it would be peanut butter and jelly and an apple or soda, you know. it was a joke to the kids, you know, the look and everything, his personal dress and goth look and stuff. so to children it's fun, you know. but when the adults got in and the police and everything and they twisted it and gave it a sinister thing, it was just totally unrealistic. >> did either of you ever have suicidal thoughts? >> no. >> i think i probably did when i was young, teenage angst, you know, things you go through as a kid just because i was such a misfit in the community i lived in. >> but not after you were put in prison?
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>> oh, yeah. >> did you ever try to take your own life? >> yeah. >> how? >> i took an overdose of basically sleeping pills, antidepressants, just because it was -- like you said a while ago, there's no light at the end of the tunnel. it seems like there's no hope and the pressure was so great that for a moment i lost all hope. i thought, i may spend god knows how long here going through this, and i did, i took an overdose of pills to try to end my life. >> let's take a short break. i want to come back and ask you how you've managed to rebuild your lives, both of you and with lorri's help. [ oswald ] there's a lot of discussion going on about the development of natural gas,
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we can still bring up new evidence. we can still continue the investigations we've been doing. we can still try to clear our names. the only difference is we can do it from the outside instead of sitting in prison to do it. >> damien echols, the news conference on his first day of freedom after nearly two decades behind bars. that moment when you walk free, how did that feel? >> it's hard to describe, you know. like i said earlier, most people don't have anything like that in their frame of reference, but it was like having a huge weight taken off your chest. for the first time in almost 20 years i could actually breathe.
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you know, i didn't feel like i was being crushed to death. and there were times in prison when we were going through that that it literally felt like being crushed to death. you feel like there's weight on you and you can't take another step. and for the first time it felt like that had been completely lifted, taken off. >> lorri, were you surprised at the strength of damien through this? >> oh, yes. >> i mean, many lesser people, in terms of strength of character, would have crumbled under this. yet i see somebody who -- to me, you've come out and you've survived. that's how i see you. someone that hasn't been destroyed by this. damaged beyond any imagination but not destroyed. would you agree with that? >> oh, absolutely. but he's worked very hard for that. i mean, there were times when it got really hard for me on the outside, just the stress and trying to get through and thinking there was no -- you know, it was just hard,
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everything, in the middle of it, and damien would get me through. so, you know, the strength of that. but i saw how hard he worked, how long he meditated, how disciplined he was with his mind, his education, his just -- he's such a disciplined person, which is one of the reasons why i find him -- i mean, there's just so many layers to him. >> you had a son by a previous relationship. >> right. he's 18 years old now. the same age i was whenever i got locked up. >> literally had just arrived. >> he was born while the trial was taking place. the very first time i held him was during the trial. >> did you see him at all during the time you were inside? >> not very often of course but he would come to the prison. we tried to keep him as far from the situation as possible. >> now he's 18, a young man, i've got an 18-year-old son. how does he deal with what's happened to his father? >> i don't know. i think it's going to take more time than we've had so far to
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get into things like that. because who knows what sort of resentments he has or anything else for missing his entire childhood. >> he's another victim. >> exactly. >> so many victims here. >> exactly. >> the whole family is crushed every way you look at this. do you think death penalty, state executions, should they be abandoned? many people think they should be now. there are too many miscarriages of justice, too many innocent people being put on death row. >> i don't think we have any idea how many innocent people have died yet. >> would you stop the death penalty? did you believe in it before this? >> i didn't give it much thought. >> you did? >> i would stop it. >> i didn't give it much thought before this. you know, it was something that i never really thought about in depth. but the media -- a lot of the media and prosecutors and things like this portray this image to society that all of these people on death row are like hannibal lecter evil geniuses and they're not. you're talking about mentally retarded people.
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schizophrenic, brain damaged, just horrendously damaged people that -- >> piers: or completely inspect. i mean this is my issue with it and i come from a country where we don't have the death penalty. every poll of the public says 9 0% would bring it back tomorrow, bring back hanging, because they do that in the belief that 100% of the people would be accused are 100% guilty. >> yeah. >> piers: and that is just not the case. >> exactly. >> piers: let's take another break and come back and ask you about how you can clear your names completely here, what you think you can do to get proper closure. nationwide insurance, what's up ?
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>> i wish to god, you know, every normal person in this -- around hire doesment. >> a young jason baldwin during the trial from the hbo documentary series "paradise lost." james baldwin and damien echols and his wife, lorri are with me now. a young kid there you have lost your lives, haven't you? what has a hardest thing about reentry to normal life? can you sleep? can you get employment? what are the practical realities of your life now?
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>> i sleep very well. i'm currently employed for a construction company, just get me on my feet. i think the most difficult thing is learning to drive. i'm working with that. i have read the dmv and took the online practice test, aced it. now i'm just trying to get down to -- >> had your first beer yet? >> oh, yeah. >> quite a few i should say, right? >> i think at one point, i went to a coffee shop and they were like what kind of coffee do you want and i'm like kind of coffee, right? americana, espresso. >> before you went in it was like, i will have a coffee. now you got to have a venture rah iced latte what it s yeah. not progress, trust me. what's it been like for you, damien? >> i think one of the most remarkable moments let me know it was really finally over, we'd friend who took us to see like an improv comedy routine and we are sitting in a room full of people watchinging the show and
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we are on the very front row and there's a bunch of people behind us and i realized i don't have to worry about anybody behind me stabbing me or hitting me in the back of the head. they are all watching the show. that's over. >> and that was the fear you lived with for ten years? >> every day. >> an awful thing to have to live with. have you managed to get work? >> not yet. >> why is that? >> um, i think it's just the things that i'm interested in, you know? i really started getting into the realm of art when ever i was in prison and that's what i would like to continue doing, continue writing, continue doing visual artwork and i just haven't been out long enough to pull things together to get that going. >> you have only been out, what, six weeks? >> a month, a month and a week. >> extraordinary month it must have been for you. can can you quite believe that you're out? i mean, you were facing a death sentence, that was it. >> sometimes yes, sometimes no sometimes it seems like it just happened, other times it seems like the whole prison experience
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was years ago already. hard to believe it is surreal. >> is there anything you can do proactively to clear your names? because there will still be people out there, seen the circumstances of your release saying, well, hang on, they are pleading guilt but maintaining their innocence. what's going on here? it is confusing for people. and therefore, must be frustrating for you, that was the only way you could finally get released. is there a mechanism for closure for you. >> >> we can be eventually pardon. >> who decides that? >> the governor. yes. >> governor of arkansas? >> yes. there are people behind the movement. same people responsible for exposing this case to the public
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and making sure he is free and starting up a mom. for us to be part. >> case still open or was it closed? >> to the prosecutors, it's closed to us, it's opened. should it be reopened? of course. >> a pardon would be great. it should come to you given all the evidence in this case. but actually getting somebody put on trial with real evidence that should have happened from the start and leading to a proper safe conviction that is when you are going to get proper closure that's when everybody, right? >> in that sense that's what we have been working on all these years with the legal team and people who have helped us. >> we want this to be free of coerced confessions, free of perjured testimony you have been
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remarkably candid and brave to do this interview, damien in parks will you were facing execution. this is one of the greatest pieces of testimony against the death penalty continued in this country. you just look at cases like this, troy davis and others, you think this is just archaic. thank you for your time. i wish you luck with your rehabilitation into normal life and go make some music, have some fun. >> thank you. >> take care. >> you, too. nice to see you. >> thank you so much. >> damien, lorri and jason. "paradise lost one" and "paradise lost 2" out now and "paradise lost 3" out in january. that is all for us tonight. "ac 360" starts now.
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